Written by Shreya Panda, a grade 11 student.
Protection of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities is the backbone of India’s secular values. As we know, India has always been an advocate for equality, and Article 30 of the Indian constitution is one of the many provisions that ensure the preservation of minority rights.
In India, people have been divided by differences in language, religion, race, culture , and other socio-economic factors. One of the objectives of the constitution-makers was to construct an arrangement that protected minorities from discrimination and also accommodated differences present amongst Indians. However, these minority rights were criticized during the time of partition as few intellectuals claimed that these would become the prime source of inequality.
The question is, do these rights create inequality among citizens, or are they actually beneficial for uplifting the minority communities of India?
What is a Minority?
The term minority needs to be elaborated on, as the actual definition is incoherent in our constitution. In simple terms, a minority group is any small team in a society that is excluded from the rest because of their race, religion, or political beliefs. The Constitution of India uses the word minority but does not define it.
The National Commission of Minorities Act declares six communities as religious minorities. They are: Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, and Zoroastrians (Parsis).
A class of people whose mother tongue is different from that of the majority group is known as a linguistic minority. The Constitution of India protects the interests of these linguistic minorities.
Article 30 talks about religious and linguistic minorities only.
What is Article 30?
Simply said, Article 30 of the Indian Constitution states the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
Article 30 proclaims that:
- All minorities, irrespective of if they are based on religion or on language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their own choice.
- The state shall not discriminate against any institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.
Does Article 30 imply Unconstitutional Favour towards Minorities?
The article is intended to ensure that minorities aren’t discriminated against or denied equal opportunity or treatment. However, for few, it has started to mean that non-minority institutions can be denied the right to establish and administer institutions in their own way.
In a judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in 2007, it was reinstated that the right conferred to minority communities under Article 30 is only to assure equality with the majority. It is by no means intended to place the minorities in a more advantageous position.
There is no evidence of unconstitutional favour of minorities regarding the general laws of the land relating to national security, national interest, social welfare, public order, morality, etc. which are applicable to all.
Social Media Conspiracy
On May 29 2020, a social media post went in circulation claiming that Article 30 of the Indian Constitution allows Madrasas to teach the Quran but Article 30(A) prohibits the teachings of Bhagavad Gita, Vedas, and Puranas in the Indian schools.
The truth is, our Constitution doesn’t even have an Article 30(A). It has also been confirmed that there is no mention of any religious text in the Constitution. Our Constitution is secular and thus the allegations on social media are baseless and just an attempt to defame the Indian Constitution.
Article 30 also empowers the minority communities to impart education to their children in their own language. Rights like these shouldn’t be misinterpreted as a form of communalism, but should remind us as citizens of the nation that the idea of equality is endorsed in the roots of the Constitution and India will always be an advocate for the same.